Since Broken Holmes’ last visit to the Fringe with a farcical tale of the eponymous detective in 2009, a certain Benedict Cumberbatch has helped propel Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s fictional sleuth into the consciousness of a new generation of fans. Hardly surprising then, that the sell out from four years ago is already selling out in its short reprise this year.
The language rooted in nineteenth-century toff but liberally sprinkled with contemporary colloquialisms
We meet Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson in their study at 221b Baker Street. Holmes is reprimanding Watson on the lack of exaggeration with his ‘Penny Dreadful’ case notes whilst Watson is sulking as Holmes has seemingly forgotten their anniversary. It’s almost wedded bliss, but there’s a murder to be solved and Holmes is convinced his particular brand of logical reasoning will have the case closed before supper. Actually, the plot is secondary to the marvelous relationship created between the lead actors which bats back and forth faster than a Wimbledon Men’s Final.
Robin Johnson’s script is delightfully silly, the language rooted in nineteenth-century toff but liberally sprinkled with contemporary colloquialisms. Energetic enthusiasm from James Bober in the role of Holmes as an opiate-fuelled beatnik genius is wonderfully juxtaposed by the downtrodden Watson, played with stoic brilliance by Canavan Connolly. There are minor roles for Patrick Spragg as Inspector Lestrade and Anna Nicholson as Morgana Scarlet, but they both really make the most out of them by scene-stealing as much as they could. It would also be remiss of me not to mention Will Naameh as the Sumatran weasel-viper. Dressed in stage blacks plus balaklava and sporting a sock-puppet snake, his eye expressions alone floored the audience on the few occasions he made an appearance.
The combination of Johnson’s wonderfully referential dialogue and a cast clearly having as much fun as is possible to squeeze into an hour make for an irreverent delight. If only the run were longer!